Saturday, May 08, 2004

Is Rush an American? Is he a person?

Bush on Arab TV:

"The American people are just as appalled at what they have seen on TV as Iraqi citizens are. The Iraqi citizens must understand that."

LIMBAUGH: Exactly. Exactly my point! This is no different than what happens at the Skull and Bones initiation and we're going to ruin people's lives over it and we're going to hamper our military effort, and then we are going to really hammer them because they had a good time. You know, these people are being fired at every day. I'm talking about people having a good time, these people, you ever heard of emotional release? You of heard of need to blow some steam off?

Thursday, May 06, 2004

Leave it to Rush

I was wondering if any conservatives were going to try and play down the actions of American military personnel (and private citizens, it seems as well) who abused prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison. And sure enough, if anyone would try, it's Limbaugh.

From the May 3 show:

LIMBAUGH: And these American prisoners of war -- have you people noticed who the torturers are? Women! The babes! The babes are meting out the torture.

LIMBAUGH: You know, if you look at -- if you, really, if you look at these pictures, I mean, I don't know if it's just me, but it looks just like anything you'd see Madonna, or Britney Spears do on stage. Maybe I'm -- yeah. And get an NEA grant for something like this. I mean, this is something that you can see on stage at Lincoln Center from an NEA grant, maybe on Sex in the City -- the movie. I mean, I don't -- it's just me.
And from the May 4 show:

CALLER: It was like a college fraternity prank that stacked up naked men --

LIMBAUGH: Exactly. Exactly my point! This is no different than what happens at the Skull and Bones initiation and we're going to ruin people's lives over it and we're going to hamper our military effort, and then we are going to really hammer them because they had a good time. You know, these people are being fired at every day. I'm talking about people having a good time, these people, you ever heard of emotional release? You of heard of need to blow some steam off?
Stunning. Conservative comedian Dennis Miller has apparently said that worse things happen in frat houses.

I had a feeling that someone would try and blow off the atrocities as no big deal -- just our boys and girls having a little deserved fun, right? I saw it coming, but it's still shocking. Would Limbaugh and Miller feel the same way if it were AMERICAN prisoners of war being subjected to the same treatment from their Iraqi captors? Just imagine if Al Jazeera started running pictures of American POWs naked and on leashes, stacked into piles, simulating sex acts. (I bet the American press would refuse to show the pictures, which is rather hypocritical, but that's another discussion.) Conservatives would be up in arms! "Those animals!" they'd say. "The barbarians should be strung up for such immoral behavior!"

Unfortunately, it may happen. The Department of Defense is tight-lipped about it, but there probably are American POWs in Iraq right now. And there will probably be more taken in the future. If I were a soldier in Iraq at this moment, I'd be less afraid of being killed than of being taken prisoner. By treating POWs so poorly, we've basically ensured that American POWs will be treated as poorly or worse.

Wednesday, May 05, 2004

From now on, absolutely no pictures of the torturing

From the Washington Post:

Bush Privately Chides Rumsfeld

Bush is "not satisfied" and "not happy" with the way Rumsfeld informed him about the investigation into abuses by U.S. soldiers at Baghdad's Abu Ghraib prison or the quantity of information Rumsfeld provided, a senior White House official said.

The president was particularly disturbed at having had to learn from news reports this week about the scope of misconduct documented in an Army investigative report completed in March, according to the official, who refused to be named so he could speak more candidly.
From the New York Times:

Rumsfeld Chastised by President for His Handling of Iraq Scandal

The officials said the president had expressed his displeasure to Mr. Rumsfeld in an Oval Office meeting because of Mr. Rumsfeld's failure to tell Mr. Bush about photographs of the abuse, which have enraged the Arab world.

In his interviews on Wednesday with Arab television networks, Mr. Bush said that he learned the graphic details of the abuse case only when they were broadcast last Wednesday on the CBS program "60 Minutes II." It was then, one White House official said, that Mr. Bush also saw the photographs documenting the abuse. "When you see the pictures," the official said, "it takes on a proportion of gravity that would require a much more extreme response than the way it was being handled."

Another White House official said, "The president was not satisfied or happy about the way he was informed about the pictures, and he did talk to Secretary Rumsfeld about it.".
Does anyone else get the impression that Bush isn't upset about what went on in Abu Ghiraib prison, but only about the PR nightmare it has become? I wonder if Rumsfeld would have been chastised if those pictures hadn't been spashed all over the international press. "Torture is one thing, Don; just don't let me hear about it on the evening news!"

It gets stranger and stranger...

Was Vice President Dick Cheney recently treated at Culpeper Regional Hospital?

Some with connections to the hospital say they heard that Cheney was recently treated at and released from the facility.

A spokesman for Cheney declined to comment.

When asked yesterday whether it was true, hospital spokeswoman Lynn Martin said, "We have no record in our system of Mr. Cheney being here."

Well, that could plausibly put the controversy to rest, right?

When further asked if Cheney had been seen by hospital personnel but there was simply no record of the visit, Martin replied, "We have no record in our system of Mr. Cheney being here."


When asked if his office had helped provide security for the reported visit, Culpeper County Sheriff Lee Hart replied: "No. He has his own people."

When asked if the Sheriff's Office knew that Cheney was or would be at the hospital, Hart said, "We had some knowledge."

So clearly, the County Sheriff knew Cheney had been there.

When questioned further, Hart said he could say no more until he made a telephone call. Less than two minutes later the sheriff called back to report, "We had no knowledge of the incident."

"There are no more rape rooms or torture chambers in Iraq"

... except the ones run by Americans, that is.

William Saletan of Slate has put together this marvelous collection of quotes demonstrating how Bush has been -- hell, he's STILL -- celebrating the liberation of the Iraqi people from torture and abuse, and all the while allegations of torture and abuse by Americans is coming to light. Definitely worth a read.

Tuesday, May 04, 2004

And the latest...

A former officer in Saddam Hussein's Republican Guard should not have been named to lead a military brigade in the tense Iraqi city of Fallujah, Pentagon officials said Tuesday.

Undersecretary of Defense Douglas Feith said the last link in the vetting process -- public reaction -- prompted the removal of Maj. Gen. Jassim Mohammed Saleh from the command of the Fallujah Brigade.

"After you finished vetting people and go public with somebody, if you've made a mistake, you hear about it and that allows you to take corrective action," Feith said. "And that's what was done in that case. And it was a mistake."

Feith was responding to a question after a speech at the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank.

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said at a news conference that "public vetting" has been used for many Iraqi officials.

"You try to vet against a list, a database. But the real vetting comes when someone's head pops up. People look at him and say, `No, no.'" he said.

In other words...

when the guy you appoint looks like the guy you just overthrew and used to work for him,

it may not be a swell idea to appoint him to lead the army.

Monday, May 03, 2004

I am getting frustrated with people who are already starting to say that Kerry is losing the campaign.

With the air gushing out of John Kerry's balloon, it may be only a matter of time until political insiders in Washington face the dread reality that the junior senator from Massachusetts doesn't have what it takes to win and has got to go. As arrogant and out of it as the Democratic political establishment is, even these pols know the party's got to have someone to run against George Bush. They can't exactly expect the president to self-destruct into thin air.

As I've noted before, this campaign has just really begun in earnest. But, just to show you how inaccurate polls taken at this point can be as predictors of the general election result, I thought we could look at the last time an incumbent Bush was challenged by a Democrat.

Remember, in 1992, when Bill Clinton won in a landslide? Well, this is how he was doing in late April and early May:

April 25 1992
The Guardian

BILL Clinton, the Democratic presidential frontrunner, was forced on to the defensive again yesterday as he headed for yet another victory at the polls, in Tuesday's Pennsylvania primary.

A new survey, meanwhile, reversing previous findings, found voters to be more confident about President Bush running the economy than they were about Mr Clinton being in charge.

Discontent with Mr Bush's economic performance had been considered one of the Democrats' strongest cards but the economy has recently shown signs of recovery. The Gallup poll showed Mr Bush beating Mr Clinton, the governor of Arkansas, in a national two-way race by a widening margin of 50 per cent to 34 per cent.

In a wounding attack, the Democratic governor of Pennsylvania, Robert Casey, said he had serious doubts about Mr Clinton's electability and urged the party to consider enlisting another candidate at its July convention. "We have to recognise reality. The primary process is not producing someone who has a good crack at winning in November," Mr Casey said.

Noting the low primary turnouts, he said: "We've got a tiny minority of Democrats voting for Bill Clinton, and he's winning every race without generating any sparks, any enthusiasm, any momentum."

Who would ever be enthusiastic about Clinton anyway?

Clinton, Perot pull even with Bush in voter preference poll,
The Boston Globe May 5, 1992

In the new poll, which included 1,301 interviews with likely voters from Thursday through Sunday nights, Bush was favored by 33 percent, and Clinton and Perot by 30 percent each. Seven percent were undecided. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

A week ago, a New York Times/CBS News poll found Bush leading with 38 percent to 28 percent for Clinton and 23 percent for Perot. The Newsweek poll, completed on Friday, had Bush at 38 percent, Clinton at 27 and Perot at 22.

When Bush was matched against only Clinton by Times Mirror, he led by 46 to 43 percent, down from 50 to 43 percent a month ago.

So just sit back, relax (but not too much), and give Kerry a chance.
He IS the Enron president!

Just had to share this quote from a sharp Kevin Drum post over at Washington Monthly:

George Bush is, fundamentally, a mediocre CEO, the kind of insulated leader who's convinced that his instincts are all he needs. Unfortunately, like many failed CEOs before him, he's about to learn that being sure you're right isn't the same thing as actually being right.
Let's hope so. The true threat posed by Bush is not his lack of knowledge; it's the force of his conviction in spite of that lack of knowledge -- indeed, in the face of mountains of contrary evidence. This is the guy that, at his latest press conference, could not admit that he had made a single mistake in between September 2001 and April 2004:

I hope -- I don't want to sound like I have made no mistakes. I'm confident I have. I just haven't -- you just put me under the spot here, and maybe I'm not as quick on my feet as I should be in coming up with one.
Intentionally or uninentionally, the guy is brilliant at having it both ways. He admits that of course he must have made a mistake along there somewhere, he just can't think of one right now. Our humble leader.

Sunday, May 02, 2004

Largely lost in the media coverage of events in Falluja is why we seiged Fallujah in the first place. But a look the reason we were there, our objectives, and the current state of affairs is quite revealing.

After the March 31st killing and mutilation of American contractors in Iraq


the U.S. besieged Falluja:

Speaking in Baghdad, Mr Bremer said the deaths of the Americans and their "despicable" mutilation - recorded by cameramen - would not "derail the march toward stability and democracy" in Iraq.

US Brigadier General Mark Kimmitt, deputy head of coalition operations, said coalition forces "will respond" to the attack.

"They are going to hunt down the people responsible for his bestial act.

"It will be at a time and a place of our choosing. It will be methodical, it will be precise and it will be overwhelming," he said.

However, after weeks of surrounding Falluja, not only are Americans leaving without having found those responsible for killing the contractors, but it appears they are leaving the city in the hands of Generals and members of Saddam's military, a military which fought two wars against the United States. Are we to expect these men to suddenly come to the defense of the United States now?

But it gets even worse. As part of the agreement,

[Sheik Mohammed] Yassin, a Sunni cleric close to the negotiations, revealed that American forces released two of Fallouja's most prominent detainees — Sheik Jamal Shaker Nazzal and Sheik Barakat Saadon Essawi, a tribal leader. Both men had been arrested late last year for "anti-coalition activities" and Nazzal had sheltered a Yemeni, who was a suspected operative for the Al Qaeda terrorist network, according to the Army's 82nd Airborne Division, which occupied Fallouja for six months before turning over its charge to the Marines last month.

So, we attacked Falluja to get the guys who killed our contractors. Then, we

1.) Gave up on Falluja without finding the killers and
2.) turned it over to Generals and members of Saddam's military and
3.) to sweeten the deal, we let a guy go who we thought sheltered an Al-Qaeda operative.

Please, does anybody have a clue what is going on here? I think our troops are in serious, serious trouble in Iraq, and we are not being told of the gravity of the situation. What else could explain this stuff?

Along those lines, now it's not even clear who is control in Falluja.
"MISSION ACCOMPLISHED"? Tell that to the loved ones of the dead

I found a website which should come in handy for Paul Wolfowitz, our Deputy Secretary of Defense who doesn't even know how many U.S. soldiers have been killed in Iraq. The site is the L.A. Times' database of the U.S. soldiers who have been killed in Iraq. You can search the database by keyword and state.